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April 2, 2017

32 of 40

For 35 years we have faced a Salt Marsh.

In history, wetlands were where the dregs slept, in hovels against the weather, easy access to fishing and commerce, cheap because of its danger. Often washed away, transient, yet gripping the coast. Now, technology and knowledge have made the dregs precious as the beauties of change outweigh the dangers.

Being under 30 in 1982 we could only afford our inland unbuildable site facing 5 acres of Conservancy because it was yet another recession in 1983 Connecticut. But more the beauty of the change in scenery was only visible through a 10ft. high matt of bull briars and poison ivy: virtually invisible to the purchaser – unless you climbed a tree accessed through a renegade kids’ tunnel thought the briars and ivy.

I did that, we bought that, and the intervening years have been only lessons.

Of course the tide is unrelenting, following the moon and storms.

But the dance between floods of salt-free water from the land, and floods of salt-filled water from the sea is also unrelenting.

But the delerious Brit-Born Fragmites rage up and out the fresher the water is in the marsh, while the nativist, soft, low, recessive Spartina grasses fill wherever salt poisons the rest.

High/Low, Fresh/Salt, Alien/Native, Fragmites/Spartina – change is everywhere and unending. The entire area is natural, and invasive. We built small buildings that float above this inevitable din: we made clinging inhabitation and then I spread more civilized invasive species in the landscape carved out amid rocky moraine – over 20 efforts and counting. These usually fail before surviving, and several do thrive. We did.

But this week, this Lent, this time of recovery, the rains were endless, as was a thaw of remnant frozen water. All drained down into the marsh, without a storm tide to bolster the impact.

But it was astonishingly, after 35 years, unexpected. Just like the clot thrown into the base of my brain that withheld balance for a week, this uninvited guest of the freshest of gravity-following fresh water just made the truth obvious. In marshes, the fulsome softness is usually unnoticed. Until you are forced to deal with it: just like balance.

The beauteous tawny six months of low temperature are replaced with vibrant and evolving green in the warmth. The colors follow weather, there is the Neck “River” but we see the solid pallets of grasses all around it.

Until, that is, the occasional storm, the tide, the thaw, the rain make inundation go above the surface. Water from upland, water from the sea, all that is marsh is just disguised saturation. Everything the marsh has is fully, ever, completely sogging wet.

I am sentient, I act in this world and in my mind – I am human – fully, ever, completely supported by the unmerited gift of life itself. It’s Grace. It’s life. I did not ask for it, or the lessons of the marsh, but it’s Lent – a good time to say a Thanks.

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